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Local non-profit turns to international recovery models as a guide for close-to-home success

The Port Alberni Shelter Society envisions a safe home + fulfilling life for everyone
Just 10 minutes from Port Alberni on 172 sprawling acres is the PASS Shelter Farm – the vegetables grown not only provide a source of nutrition to clients, they’re also sold at markets and local restaurants to help generate income to support PASS’ shelter and programs.

Through its myriad supports and services, the Port Alberni Shelter Society (PASS) works hard to empower individuals toward self-sufficiency and a sense of belonging within the Port Alberni community.

The non-profit society is committed to providing housing, eliminating barriers and offering long-term housing solutions to those who need it most. This translates to more than 100 beds in our community, available through supportive housing as well as transitional, emergency and seniors’ housing.

And, with the capacity to accommodate other emergency housing needs, the vital work continues year-round.

Beyond housing services, PASS’ facilities also include an Overdose Prevention Site, Phoenix House, a low-barrier housing site, a sobering site, extensive harm-reduction services, a food distribution network, and PASS Shelter Farm. They’re also committed to providing a platform for their “Opioid Dialogues”, which they offer trough their website as well as several public forums in the community – if you’re interested, you can join the conversation today.

PASS Shelter Farm:

It’s the Shelter Farm that’s been of particular interest. Modelled after successful Therapeutic Recovery Communities – or TRC – in countries such as Spain and Portugal, they’ve been fortunate to have them as a guide, informing decisions closer to home.

Bringing their own TRC to Canada, through the vegetable farm and social enterprise that teaches crop management, skills in irrigation, weeding, integrated pest management and disease control, they’re taking action against addiction. Going a step further, they also educate clients on business management, budgeting and marketing skills as well.

Perhaps what most distinguishes TRCs such as the Shelter Farm, is that rather than relying solely on treatment of addiction, the holistic approach also involves working, living and achieving goals together. The program is built upon hard work, candid feedback, and intensive community life that effectively changes the underlying behaviours that led to the challenges in residents’ lives, says John Douglas, from the Port Alberni Shelter Society.

Here in Canada, many of our treatment models fail in terms of long-term patient recovery, but succeed in their business-generating goals. This can be compounded by the delusion that if we spend money and pay for the consultation of experts we can “cure” addictions, Douglas says.

In recognizing the downfalls to such an approach, the Port Alberni Shelter Society is proud to be introducing an alternative.

To learn more, you can get involved by joining the conversation, volunteering your time or by making a donation. No matter how you choose to show your support, you can feel good knowing your making a difference close to home.

To learn more, you can visit them online or head to their Facebook page to stay up-to-date on all the latest happenings.